Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thai Tofu Noodle Soup with Lemongrass and Watercress and Avocado Salad

I used a recipe found quickly online tonight, but it was definitely lacking punch to the broth. I amended each bowl with more soy sauce, rice wine vinegar (not called for in the original recipe) and Siracha chili sauce until we were happy with it. This is really going to be a to-your-taste recipe guys. You'll have to tweak it for sure. Wish I could be more exacting with amounts, but then...when have I ever been?? :-)
The salad was delicious! The original recipe from Epicurious called for 3 Tbs. of oil. I didn't think that was necessary and heard no complaints from using much less. Try this simple salad if you find yourself standing in front of some lovely watercress in a grocery store.

Thai Tofu Noodle Soup with Lemongrass :

1-2 stalks lemongrass (see complete instruction here), OR 4 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (I actually just grated 2 stalks on my microplane and used all of it)
1 package Thai rice noodles (I'm using brown rice noodles that I'll cook as per the pkg instructions)
1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, thinly sliced into matchstick-like pieces
6 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth if making a vegetarian version)
1/2 package firm, medium or soft tofu (packed in water) - drain off the water and slice tofu into cubes or slabs (I'm using thin slices of extra firm tofu sliced into ~1/8"+ thick rectangles)
sugar snap peas sliced in half on the diagonal
2 carrots, sliced (I used baby carrots)
2-3+ Tbsp. fish sauce (If making veggie version, there is vegetarian fish sauce available)
2+ Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 can+ good-quality coconut milk
3-4 kaffir lime leaves (usually available in frozen packets at Asian/Chinese food stores, I subbed 3-4 tsp lime zest)
about 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped if leaves are large
fresh roughly chopped cilantro
couple spoons of chili garlic sauce
seasoned rice wine vinegar to taste
juice of a lime
Siracha chili sauce to serve at the table

1. Again for complete instructions on how to buy and cook with lemongrass, see: All About Lemongrass: Your Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking with Lemongrass.
2. First, place noodles in a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the noodles to soak in the hot water while you prepare the soup.
3. Place broth in a soup pot along with lemongrass (include left-over stalk pieces), plus galangal (or ginger), lime leaves, and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer while you chop up and add the remaining vegetables (about 5 minutes).
4. Add the remaining vegetables. Stir and then allow to simmer 2 more minutes.
5. Reduce heat to minimum and add the coconut milk, stirring until dissolved. Finally, add the tofu, gently stirring it in so it doesn't fall apart.
6. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce. If you prefer your soup spicy, add 1-2 tsp. chili sauce (OR simply serve it on the side for those who like it).
7. Do a taste test, adding more fish sauce or soy sauce if not salty enough. If you find the soup too salty (this depends on how salty your broth was to start with), add 1 to 2 Tbsp. lime juice. If too sour for your taste, add 1 tsp. agave nectar. Tweak until you're happy with the broth
8. Check rice noodles to make sure they are cooked (if still a little hard, boil briefly). Drain the noodles and portion them out into bowls. Tip: If you have extra noodles left over, leave them in the colander and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.
9. Pour ladles of soup over each bowl of noodles. Sprinkle fresh basil and cilantro over each bowl.

Avocado and Watercress Salad:
(adapted from Epicurious.com recipe)
serves 2

1/4 cup unseasoned or light seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon grated sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (use large holes of a box grater)
1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple (I used a Pink Lady)...use box grater again...chop a bit more after grating.
4 teaspoons soy sauce
a small touch of agave nectar (taste first, you may not want this)
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
watercress (thin stems and leaves only; from 1 large bunch)
a couple of handfuls of torn baby spinach to flesh out the salad
1/2 firm-ripe avocado

Stir together vinegar, onion, apple, soy sauce, and agave nectar, then stir in oil.

Just before serving, toss watercress and spinach with enough dressing to coat. Quarter, pit, and peel avocado, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Gently toss with greens.

Cooks' notes:
•Watercress can be trimmed 1 day ahead and chilled in a sealed bag lined with damp paper towels.
•Dressing can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Stir or shake before using.


Anonymous said...

great recipe - adjusted with vegetable stock and more than needed probably basil and cilantro. Think the chicken stock is nicer, but have a vegetarian son to cook for! Like the spaghetti noodles you used yesterday rather than the Thai rice noodles - more flavor. But nice recipe -

Erndog said...

The "spaghetti noodles" that I used are a brown rice spaghetti-style noodle made by Tinkyada. First time I 've used them, and we really liked them.